Thursday, June 17, 2010

2 week break

Greetings to all, whether you're a faithful reader or a sudden visitor!

In light of the fact that I am in the process of moving and at the same time, out of the area with limited internet access, I wanted to let you know that I will probably not post until July. I might be able to find a moment to throw in some content here or there, but I figured just in case, I'd go with worst case scenario.

But once July begins, expect things to be back to normal with a flurry of new coffeehouses and coffee experiences!

In the humblest gratitude,


Sunday, June 13, 2010

CC: Voluto Coffee

Subject: Voluto Coffee 
Location visited: Pittsburgh, PA
Free WiFi ? : yes
6+ [
see key]

UPDATED 04/29/14

Yet another city often bypassed in my history (mostly during family vacations when I was a wee tot) was the city of Pittsburgh. It's sad (and joyous) to say that my first actual trip just recently happened, as I had a long weekend to spend in town with friends, enjoying some baseball and local sights.

Of course, coffee stops made the list of attractions and there were quite a few. Much like Pittsburgh has been one of the few old industrial cities of the America to really bounce back, it seems their coffee scene has also been atypical in the number of acclaimed coffee places to have emerged.

My first stop was a relative newcomer to the scene called Voluto Coffee. Located in the Friendship area of Pittsburgh, the cafe is part of a residential building, with Voluto trumpeting huge windows and a nice array of modern-esque outside seating. On the other side of the glass, the cafe continues the modern look, with a gorgeous array of furniture in an 'honest architecture' space.

The coffee comes all the way from British Columbia via 49th Parallel. I had myself an espresso (49th's Epic) and a cup from their pump pot (I believe it was french pressed originally) of the 123 degree W Longitude blend. The espresso, pulled short with beautiful crema, displayed notes of vanilla, strawberry, cream, lemon and sugar. The barista did a great job with the extraction and the bright espresso was delightful to slurp. The 123 degree W Longitude blend produced a light, grassy, tart apple coffee with hints of tobacco, orange and honey; a great coffee throughout. The tea was free leaf.

As the first cafe on my expedition, I was greatly pleased with Voluto. Stop in.

UPDATED 04/29/14
Voluto is now a location for Commonplace Coffee. Still a win as for quality. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

CC: Alterra Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?

Alterra Coffee
Location visited: Milwaukee, WI
(Alterra at the Lake location)
Free WiFi ? : sometimes
6+ [
see key]

How I love a warm day along a lake, especially when its relatively tranquil and I can count the number of noises on one hand. Aside from a chipper leprechaun handing me his pot of gold, the only thing I that could add to such a nice location would be a well-placed cafe.

Of course, Milwaukee (one of my new favorite cities) boasts an Alterra Coffee location in a converted flushing station along Lake Michigan. When I first laid eyes on its beautiful architecture, exterior park-like grounds and wondrous placement along the lake, I knew this place must be a gold mine even if they served aged puddle water and horse cheese. Inside it got even better, with a gorgeous atrium consisting of multiple levels of rustic furniture and the most merchandise I have ever seen for one coffee entity.

Alterra has been on my list to try for some time, as they've managed to elude me through my many travels. After waiting amidst the late morning coffee rush, I ordered myself an espresso (I believe of their Espresso Toro) and a drip of the Ethiopian. The espresso, pulled short with a nice marbled crema, held notes of blood orange, cocoa, a cranberry-based cocktail, a little portabello and a speckle of sage. To put it simply, it was good espresso, though it leaned a little sour. The Ethiopian coffee demonstrated a grassy cup followed with honey, grape, some earthiness, a bit of a saucy aura and some spice cake. As for my experience with Ethiopians, this coffee had much less acidity than I would expect, but other than that, it was good. The tea was free leaf.

Not able to hang out long, I would have say my trip to Alterra on the Lake was almost without blemish (their no free WIFI after 12 PM caught me at a slight inconvenience). While the selection of amazing coffee in Milwaukee is intimidating, if you don't need WIFI, this place has a location that will make you weep with elation, so do stop in.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

CC: Knockbox Cafe

What's does "CC" mean? Location visited: Chicago, IL
Free WiFi ? : yes
5+ [
see key]

Of the many things I've seen in quality Chicago coffee, the one thing that impresses me is the loyalty to local roasters. I've been to a number of coffeehouses in the Windy City and thus far, I only see a dire love for the likes of Intelligentsia and Metropolis.

Adding to my repertoire of such establishments was a place in Humboldt Park called Knockbox Cafe. In my travels around the city, the streets leading me to Knockbox definitely didn't strike me as a place a random tourist would happen upon but more a space where locals enjoy their daily coffee (i.e. it was largely residential). Upon arriving, I also noticed the exterior of the cafe was under a bit of construction, with a big piece of plywood over one side of the corner, though the remainder of the exterior looked spiffy. Inside, the cafe trumpeted a huge counter area, a high brown metal ceiling and large colorful walls surrounding a spread out sea of seating.

Knockbox is a Metropolis Coffee purveyor, proudly toting the roaster not only in their cafe but quite visibly on their website (a refreshing sight, given the ridiculous trend amongst some cafes of either masquerading a roaster's coffee as the cafe's own or withholding the roaster because its a "trade secret").

I purchased a cup of medium roasted Peru as well as an espresso. The Peru displayed some asian pear, a bit of almond, some pepper, a molasses-like sweetness and a tingle of grain; a good, pretty balanced cup though I felt the brew was a bit off. The espresso, pulled short with a nice crema, held a strong dark peppery flavor as well as some nice notes of bright acidity, cocoa and a little bit of celery. A decent pull though I can't say I was in love with the blend (I believe it was Metropolis' Redline Espresso, a blend better marketed for its performance in milk). The tea is free leaf.

After ingesting my coffee and a quick boardgame with friends (they had a nice selection), I was on my way, pleased with my Knockbox interaction.

Whether you live local or you're passing close by, give Knockbox Cafe a visit.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Mugged: Estate Blend [R Dalton Coffee]


What does "Mugged" mean?

R Dalton Coffee
Coffees Mugged:
Estate Blend

Rating: 3+
[see key]

oy does spring really jump into summer! I've been running to and fro with work and life's transitions seemingly nonstop with no sign of it slowing.

Today, my task was to get back on schedule and do some blogging that I've been backed up on for some weeks. R Dalton Coffee, a coffee company that sells Guatemalan coffee exclusively it seems (in 6 pack quantities), sent me two of their coffees to try out and today was the day to get the reviews out. First up was their Estate Blend, a blend of coffees from various R Dalton estates.

Brewed in french press, it displayed dark flavors (a little overtly bitter) as well as a bit of lime, dough, cherry, grass and oregano. A decent showing but it didn't knock my socks off.

The drip was not as dark (though still dark with bitter notes) with the lime, dough and cherry as well as a little honey. A bit better of a coffee infusion.

The siphon was still dark (this time not in a detrimental way at all) with the lime, dough, cherry and grass all displayed well in concert. By far, the best cup.

Putting it all together, I enjoyed this Guatemalan blend but I feel that it was a little too dark for the coffee's beans though I also suspect that there could be other factors (such as lack of freshness). Give R Dalton's Estate Blend a try if you're looking for a decent six-pack of coffee.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.